Culture | Discuss Japan-Japan Foreign Policy Forum - Part 4

Archives : Culture

No.20, Culture, Discussions  Apr. 11, 2014

The First Three-Way Conversation Coinciding with the Thirtieth Anniversary of Studio Ghibli Miya-san, why don’t you make another movie?

Miyazaki Hayao (left), Suzuki Toshio (center) and Takahata Isao Photo by Nicolas Guérin

The release of The Wind Rises, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and then, Miyazaki Hayao’s announcement of his retirement: 2013 was truly the year of Ghibli. Read about their works and this country in an in-depth conversation that lasted for three hours by two master directors and a famous producer. ... [Read more]

No.19, Culture  Mar. 10, 2014

Japan Is Entering a Period of 10 Million Visitors: The Growing Competition to Attract Tourists — A company that has seized the business opportunity of increasing inbound visitors

Don Quijote (“Donki”), Osaka

The number of foreign visitors to Japan is expected to reach 10 million this year. And this number will likely grow further with the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. What do businesses need to do in order to succeed in this growing market? What are the issues? We undertake a multilateral analysis. As a nation for tourists, the government needs to develop rules The number of inbound visitors to Japan rapidly increased during the period from January to September, and is expected to reach 10 million by the end of the year. While this trend is riding the tailwind of a weaker yen and visa deregulation, could Japan continue to increase its inbound visitors to double or triple the current number? The Ginza store of Don Quijote (“Donki”), a discount store that is open twenty-four hours a day, is known to be teeming with tourists from Asia and other foreign countries late at night. After taking in the country during the day, visiting tourist attractions and theme parks, there was nowhere for people to safely enjoy their late-night hours. Noticing this, Donki went creative and started attracting these inbound visitors. The number of foreign tourists visiting Donki’s current network of 257 stores totals 4 million a year. This figure has grown ten-fold from the 400,000 visitors of five years ago. Nakamura Yoshiaki, the president of Japan Inbound Solutions, which has led inbound visitor initiatives since 2008 and was spun off from Don Quijote, explains, “While some retailers tried to fill the gap in their domestic sales with sales from inbound visitors, Donki went and found the ‘blue ocean’ (a market without any competitors) of inbound visitors when its main business was on a roll.” ... [Read more]

No.18, Culture  Jan. 30, 2014

INTERVIEW: WASHOKU, traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese

A traditional ichiju-sansai Japanese meal featuring steamed rice and miso soup (front), three main dishes (two vegetable dishes and one of fish), and pickles (top left) All photos: Courtesy of Professor KUMAKURA ISAO

Traditional Japanese food is collectively known as washoku. Under the title, “Washoku, traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) registered washoku on its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on December 4, 2013. Discuss Japan spoke with Kumakura Isao who spearheaded the campaign for convincing UNESCO to add washoku to its intangible cultural heritage list.... [Read more]

No.17, Culture, Discussions  Dec. 1, 2013

Hosoda Mamoru + Azuma Hiroki — Animation for Parents

Azuma (left) and Hosoda. PHOTO: COURTESY OF GENRON CO., LTD.

In 2012, director Hosoda Mamoru scored a big hit with a movie called Wolf Children. Unlike conventional animated movies, it was full of messages aimed at families raising young children. On September 25, while the movie was in theaters, Hosoda’s first child (a son) was born, thrusting the director right into the heart of child raising himself. He met up twice with the Japan Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, who himself has a daughter in elementary school, for an in-depth discussion regarding the hidden messages in Wolf Children and the isolating effects of becoming a father.... [Read more]

No.17, Culture  Dec. 1, 2013

Symposium Commemorating the Opening of the Great East Japan Earthquake ArchiveMotivation and Effort to Preserve the Records of the Great East Japan Earthquake

A scene from the symposium PHOTO: COURTESY OF The Digital Information Distribution Division, Digital Information Department of the National Diet Library

The National Diet Library officially published the National Diet Library Great East Japan Earthquake Archive (a.k.a. HINAGIKU) on March 7 for the purpose of passing records and lessons learnt from major earthquake disasters to the next generation to be used for projects to restore/recover disaster-hit areas and for future disaster prevention and reduction measures. HINAGIKU is a portal site that cooperates with various institutions and groups within Japan and overseas to collate, store and allow the unitary search and use of audio, video, photographs, web information and other digital data related to the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as academic research findings from research institutions and related document information.... [Read more]

No.16, Culture  Oct. 11, 2013

Special Interview : Suzuki Toshio, Producer and Chairman, Studio Ghibli – Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao Serving as the driver for two geniuses

Producer and Chairman of Studio Ghibli

Miyazaki Hayao’s The Wind Rises is now playing, and Takahata Isao’s The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (Kaguyahime no Monogatari) is due out this fall. Wanting to know how Suzuki Toshio, the Representative Director of Studio Ghibli and the producer of these two works, handled these two geniuses named Miyazaki and Takahata, Suzuki’s longtime acquaintance, Shibuya Yoichi, the President of Rockin’ On, interviewed him for over ten hours. While you should read his latest book, Kaze ni Fukarete if you want the entire interview, we share part of it here. ... [Read more]

No.11, Culture  May. 19, 2012


Photo : Kashiwagi Takao

The Key is Local Production of Energy for Local Consumption Japan has been a manufacturing nation, with a dominant manufacturing industry. As such, it has relied on fossil fuels such as oil and coal to maintain a steady supply of electric power. With the global push to reduce total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, however, Japan has faced calls to scale back its use of fossil fuels, particularly given accelerating economic growth in emerging economies such as China and India and the resultant surge in the driving population. Japan had planned to respond to these calls by raising the proportion of electric power generated by nuclear power. However, the accidents at the nuclear power plants in Fukushima have upturned these plans. To ensure that we have a reliable... [Read more]

No.10, Culture  Feb. 9, 2012


Photo : Dr. Hosoya Ryota

Hosoya Ryota: You always have concern about the dietary habits of today’s young people. And you wonder whether the reason they have difficulty in delivering babies is that their eating patterns contain things such as cola, potato chips and apple pie. Tatsumi Yoshiko: I am very concerned that the number of premature babies with very low birth weights is actually said to be increasing. Hosoya: When I heard that, I went and spoke with an experienced birth attendant since the maternity center of Saint Luke’s International Hospital is located nearby. This person told me there are indeed many pregnant women who have peculiar eating habits.... [Read more]

No.10, Culture  Feb. 6, 2012


Photo : Kariya Takehiko

The changing role of the state In March 2011, a conference was held at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies of Oxford University, to which I belong, on the subject of higher education. I took part as one of the conference’s planners. The event was built around the theme of the state’s role in higher education. University education in Europe, which achieved development mainly around national universities, is now at a turning point. In exchange for expanded educational opportunities, heavy fiscal burdens have been placed on the state. The state also faces a... [Read more]

No.10, Culture  Feb. 4, 2012


Photo : Takeda Toru

“Let me say a few words about what I want for universities. – To start with, I hope that universities will be places where both instructors and students are as free as possible to research, educate, and learn. Secondly, it is my earnest hope that we will become decent human beings through research and education at universities. We need to scrutinize what it means to be a “decent human being,” but here, in any case, I would like to emphasize that human beings must not be an instrument, or a means for something else. Thirdly, universities are not only for the people at the universities, but they also want to serve society outside universities, to enrich the lives of people, and to contribute to decent lives for all human beings.”... [Read more]